Expedite procurement of HIV drugs, Uhuru tells ministries

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021 04:00 |
Nakuru Smart Ladies distribute condoms during celebrations to mark World Aids Day in Nakuru, yesterday. Photo/PD/Raphael munge

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday directed the Ministry of Health and the National Treasury to expedite procurement of HIV/Aids prevention commodities to address recurring shortages. 

Speaking in Nakuru yesterday during celebrations to mark World Aids Day at Nakuru Athletic Club, the President said with donor transitions occasioning a serious challenge that threatens continuation of effective treatment for the 1.5 million Kenyans living with HIV, there was need to come up with local arrangements to correct the same. 

He revealed the country requires Sh25.4 billion to procure HIV prevention and management materials including ARVs, testing kits, Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). 

“I hereby direct the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Health and his Treasury counterpart to jointly work on solutions to secure essential HIV prevention and management commodities by exploring options of partnerships for local manufacturing of these commodities,” he said. 

The Head of State said there was need to ensure the supply chain remains uninterrupted in delivering the essential commodities. 

He revealed the country had made tremendous strides in the fight against new HIV infections, saying the event was also to remember more than two million Kenyans who have lost their lives to the scourge. 

“As a country, we still have an estimated 1.5 million Kenyans currently living with HIV and whom we cannot forget as we continue to work together with them to ensure that they survive and live a full life,” said Kenyatta. 

He noted that through a combined efforts, stakeholders have been able to turn around despair to hope saying the number of AIDS related deaths has dropped by 67 per cent since 2013. 

Mother to child transmission
New HIV infection, he said, have reduced from 58,456 in 2013 to 19,486 in 2021 while the uptake of antiretroviral drugs has increased by 83 per cent from 656,000 in 2013 to at least 1.2 million in 2021. 

He added that Kenya’s significant investment in HIV prevention had bore fruit with the new infections reducing by 68 per cent from around 101,488 to 32,027 currently saying the prevalence rate had gone down from six to four percent. 

“Kenya is among the countries in Africa leading in achieving universal access to antiretroviral therapy, the country further leads the pack in providing more optimised treatment to prevent HIV transmission and prolong the lives of those living with HIV,” he said. 

The Head of State noted that his administration introduced free maternity services through the Linda Mama programme in 2014 which has increased antenatal clinic visits for mothers saying mother-child transmission had reduced from 14 per cent to 9.7 per cent in 2021. 

He noted this year, the world agreed on a bold plan that, if leaders fulfil it, will end AIDS by 2030 saying his administration had increased resources to HIV response from 18 to 38 percent. 

He commended researchers, policy experts, programmers, civil societies and development partners for the concerted effort to end infections and ending teenage pregnancies. 

The Head of state further expressed concern over the rising numbers of teenage pregnancies saying the same undermines Kenya’s social-economic development and curtails progress to eradicate HIV transmission. 
He revealed that teenage mothers are at a greater risk of more health complications, some resulting in death. 

Kenyatta called on all stakeholders in both the national and county governments to scale up context specific solutions to end teenage pregnancies. 

“We have taken measures to ensure the gains made in HIV response are safeguarded despite the Covid-19 pandemic, it remains the world concern and it affects the most productive members of the society of 15-49 years,” said Kenyatta. 

Rapists on the spot
He, at the same time, condemned men who prey on young girls advising women to expose miscreants who take advantage of young girls amid increased cases of HIV. 

Kenyatta said defilers should be shamed publicly to reduce the incidents. 
“It’s a big shame to hear our children crying because old men are preying on them. A man who walks freely after committing such a crime should be ashamed of himself. It is not the children who are destroying themselves, it is we the adults who are destroying them, this is the truth,” he said. 

He further stated: “If as a man you are no longer interested in your wife, then please look for your peers. Stop destroying the lives of our children,” he said.

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